Ibis bikes was founded by Scott Nicol in 1981 in his garage. He is actually still behind Ibis after he re-gained control in 2005. Now the bikes are made in Asia, out of carbon fibre and are still nice. In a way. This is as far from that as possible: Hand made, welded by Nicol or one of the other employees in the small operation he had going on, equipped with a lot of custom parts and the new and shiny Shimano 700 Deer Head drivetrain and Suntour shifters.
Normally I like to write something about the company, but in this case Ibis cycles wrote a lot of cool articles about the early days in 2011, when the company turned 30 years. The article about the name, the early days and the one about Fat City is great reading. Ideally - read them all here.
In many ways this is a typical early 80s bike, but the stub stem, riveted Hi-E hubs and the Cunningham/Ibis Rollercam brakes are pretty cool and something that not every bike was equipped with. Hi-E started making these hubs way before there was purpose built mtbs. They were easy to modify since the mid section could be removed and replaced with a wider hub shell. To make them strong enough the shells were riveted. The stem is likely made by Wes Williams (Ibis employee #1) and have the brake cable through the stem, a style that Yeti/FTW later popularized. The cable noodle is a cable elbow with adjuster from a motorcycle, the grips is Magura motorcycle grips with the flanges removed, hubs are customized road hubs, and the pedals, quick releases and headset are from Campagnolo. Besides from that, the rest of the bike is equipped with purpose built mtb parts.
The paint is pretty rough, but hey - it’s original and showing the battle scars. Logos are hand painted. Love it.
The brakes are quite unique on this bike. Earlier klunkers had coaster brakes and the new standard for mtb was cantilever brakes, previously used on touring bikes. The preferred option were the Mafac tandem brakes, as they were a bit wider and thus giving more stoppage power than the more narrow, standard brakes. There was a second style of brakes - the roller cams. Originally made by Charlie Cunningham in the late 70s and exclusive to his super high end bikes until Scott Nicol worked further on them, as seen here. The original Cunningham brakes had larger brake bosses, and the brakes on this bake have normal sized brake bosses.
The story is that Scott Nicol used to photograph everything that had “by master” written on them, and had a good collection of stuff with that name. This bike has “by master” written on the top tube and “speedmaster” on the nds chain stay. This is supposedly the reason why the WTB roller cams later were called “speedmaster”.
The ride is as expected on a bike like this - very relaxed and backwards leaning. The seat tube angle is quite something (about 67/68 degrees) and really doesn’t makes you want to stand on the bike, unless its going downhill. The very short stem does make it quite nervous as well, and the bike is probably a bit too small for me. I guess putting a longer seat post and stem on it will make the geometry strange. Older mtbs doesn't work all that well for someone that is larger or smaller than the original owner.
Frame: Ibis with Campagnolo drop outs
Fork: Ibis with Campagnolo drop outs
Rims: Saturne X-22
Hubs: Hi-E, riveted for extra strength
Tires: Specialized Ground Control
Rear Cogs: Suntour
Bottom Bracket: Press fit, sealed cartridge
Front Derailleur: Shimano XT Deer Head
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT Deer Head
Handlebars: Shimmed - alloy
Brake set: Ibis/Cunningham “Swiss Cheese” rollercams with finned Mathauser pads
Brake levers: Shimano XT Deer Head
Saddle: Brooks B-17
Seat Post: SR Laprade